Pony Wars: Why We Are Competing With A 2017 Mustang?

By now, you must have picked up on the launch of our new series, Horsepower Wars, which kicks off with a battle that has raged on for decades — Camaro versus Mustang. If you aren’t up to speed, be sure to check out our breakdown of the contest here. The first installment in the series, Pony Wars, is classic clash pitting a 2017 Camaro SS against a 2017 Mustang GT.

The two cars will battle bragging rights in four categories. We will start with largely stock vehicles and build them within the confines of a budget. After installing the budgeted mods, we will test them to decide an ultimate winner.

While we might not get points for it, our 2017 Mustang GT is already winning in the looks department thanks to those sleek S550 body lines and striking Race Red paint.

Now, if you are well versed in ponycar lore, you know that the 2017 versions of these two storied vehicles are available with some different options and features that don’t exactly make for a totally even start. Due to the cadence of production cycles, the Camaro features a few options that didn’t arrive on the Mustang until the next model year. So, you might be asking why we opted to go with a 2017 Mustang GT as our stallion?

Well, there are a few reasons. Chief among them is that we picked up both vehicles with an idea of modifying them before the Horsepower Wars concept came to fruition and the 2018 Mustangs were just hitting dealer lots. Plus, many of the parts we would need were still in development.

Five Reasons We Chose the 2017 Mustang

• Analog suspension offering easy modification

• Durable automatic transmission with plenty upgrades available

• Fully developed range of aftermarket upgrades

• Predictable, easily upgraded port-fuel injection

• Robust aftermarket tuning support

While we briefly considered opting for the more powerful, technology-laden 2018 Mustang, the aftermarket is still learning all the tricks of the latest platform. Ultimately, we decided that 2017 Mustang GT and its tried-and-true, Gen 2 Coyote with an easily tunable port injection system offered a proven path for building performance.

Moreover, its aftermarket is simply more robust, the tuning is fully developed, and it doesn’t have direct injection, a high-tech suspension or a new transmission that might require more development time. In short, the first-gen S550 is a known quantity.

Our project platform is a bit of a stripper, as the only options being base 300A package and the 6R80 six-speed automatic transmission. That makes for a great blank canvas to embellish with carefully selected modifications, and it should be a bit lighter than an optioned-up Performance Pack or Premium version.

With sponsorship support from some of the biggest names in the automotive aftermarket — including COMP, DiabloSport, E3 Spark Plugs, Holley Performance PartsMickey Thompson, ProCharger, QA1 Royal PurpleTCI, and others — these cars won’t stay stock for long. We are adding gear to bolster our first-gen S550 under the constraints of $5,000 and $15,000 worth of parts from Summit Racing for the two build phases.

With the Mustang being one of the most mod-friendly vehicles on the planet, we expect the car will do well as the competition progresses. And, hey, even if our bet doesn’t pay off with the 2017, the Pony Wars might just return again next year with the latest cars and maybe even a Mopar representative thrown in the mix.

To see if we made the right choice, stay tuned here and at the Horsepower Wars page to watch the action unfold.

About the author

Steve Turner

Steve Turner brings decades of passion and knowledge in the world of Ford performance, having covered it for over 20 years. From the swan song of the Fox Mustang to the birth of the Coyote, Steve had a front-row seat.
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